Ginther Defends 'Gun Buy Back' Event; Others Question Impact
COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX) — The City of Columbus is defending the effectiveness of its annual 'Gun Buy Back' event. The event was part of the city's push to reduce gun violence. Mayor Ginther, along with CPD officers, were in attendance at the event on Saturday. Three hundred forty-four guns were collected from members of the community in exchange for gift cards. However, some call the event pointless and a publicity stunt ahead of the mayoral election.
"It’s just really election-year propaganda. Election year rhetoric. It happens every election year. This was about optics. You lay out a bunch of firearms, long rifles, and fire guns on a table, and you look at them, and it looks like we just cleaned up the neighborhood," said Columbus mayoral candidate Joe Motil.
Motil and Brian Steel, Vice President of the police union, expressed similar opinions on the event’s impact.
"Here is the reality. The guns that were collected, those are not the guns the violent offenders are using. A violent offender whose weapon is tool of their trade, is not going to go turn that in for a $50, $100 or $1,000 Kroger gift card. I understand it's a political year. I understand the mayor has an opponent, an opponent that's picking up steam. He’s got to show something - that we are lowering the crime," said Steel.
Mayor Andrew Ginther responded to those who expressed doubt about the impact of these gun buyback events. Ginther says fewer guns make everyone safer and that he is looking forward to more buyback events.
"We think taking guns off the street are a good thing. There may be other people who want more guns on the street that don't believe the police should be working with the community to get guns off the street. I’m here to keep fighting to get as many guns off the street as possible. That's my commitment to the people of Columbus," said Ginther.
Columbus Assistant Chief of Police LaShanna Potts says Saturday’s gun buyback event was a win for the city.
"Any gun that we can get off the street is a win for the division. We're going to always have people who say we can do things differently, but this is just one point that we are doing. We are in the community sharing resources. We discussed gun safety. We passed out gun locks.” said Potts.
Of the 344 total firearms collected Saturday, 25 of those were assault weapons, including nine sawed-off shotguns, which are illegal. So far this year, 3,023 firearms have been recovered. That is up 465 firearms from this same time last year.
Mayoral candidate Motil agrees it’s great that guns are being collected but believes the focus should instead be on other issues.
"We need to address the socio-economic problems of our underlying issues that create crime that create violence. Public education, decent public housing and systemic racism, affordable childcare,” said Motil.